Response to the Coronavirus

Recently, we have seen much news about the growing concerns over COVID19 – the Coronavirus. The US Centers for Disease Control urge everyone to take standard precautions against infection by washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when sick.

As a welcoming community, we at United Parish hope we will not need to cancel our programs or worship. We will follow the guidelines of our local and state officials.

We encourage all of us to observe these simple, common-sense steps to ensure a lower-risk environment:

1) If you are feeling unwell, even with just a cold, please stay home from worship services, meetings, and other programming at United Parish. While we know that like the annual flu, 80% of the cases are mild, we also know that some cases result in hospitalizations and require intensive care. This is especially true for our seniors and health-compromised members. Please keep in mind the entire United Parish community when deciding if you or your family are healthy enough to attend. Stay home and keep others safe if you are unsure.

2) We are working to procure more hand sanitizer dispensers around the building (currently supply is low). Until then we encourage you to bring your own (if your local store is sold out, here’s how to make it yourself). Remember that the most effective method to avoid contracting or spreading this virus is HAND WASHING. Please make rigorous efforts to wash your hands well, using soap and water, and be sure to dry them fully (viruses like wet surfaces more than dry ones).

For a thoughtful meditation on hand-washing, check out this poem by Dori Midnight Wash Your Hands.

3) For the time being, we will encourage elbow bumps, bows and peace signs rather than handshakes or hugs while passing the peace and greeting one another.

4) At Coffee Hour and our upcoming potluck on March 15, or any other events with food, please use serving spoons and do not “double dip.”

These self-care behaviors also serve to care for our neighbor and our community, as we remember Jesus’ words:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 21:30-31

We see widespread anxiety about this virus in our news media. One of the biggest antidotes to fear is good information, such as our state and national resource guides on prevention measures and outbreak status. We encourage sensible caution, good basic hygiene and awareness of conditions in the world. Take a deep breath, avoid panic and do your best to stay well. We remember that Jesus also taught us,

Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:34

Sources: Thanks to our friends at Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, and our leadership at the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ (sneucc.org/coronavirus) for their helpful information.